Monday, December 28, 2009


Dec. 3rd was the one year anniversary of the day I was laid off, thrown out of the car and onto the road less traveled. The day came and went quietly. I mentioned it to a few folks in passing and they weren't sure whether to congratulate or console me. I wasn't sure either. It's hard to tell how I feel. Life has changed a lot. I was in a melancholy mood as I went about my business that day: picking up the 'Share the Road' skull from Redux at the close of the Muertos show, then over to Fantasma to hang 3 new Calaveras and collect payment for the one that had just sold, then home to list a few more on Etsy.

THIS is my new life, my new JOB. Business is slow, but that's true almost everywhere. I miss a regular paycheck, but at least some money is trickling in. How long do I give myself to make this thing work? How long will el Hueso induldge me? How long does it take to build an Artist? Time's not up yet.

I have spent these last few weeks reflecting on the course of the past year and where it has lead me. It has been a humbling exercise to outline the year's small accomplishments, but as I look at it as a whole, I see that they do add up to something. . . the beginning of something.
The following is my First Year in Review. . .

  • 12-03-08 Laid off from almost 9 yrs @ Precision Images.
  • 12-17-08 Opened an Etsy Shop
  • Spent the better part of the month in a shell-shocked state of panic.
  • 01-14-09 Started this Blog.
  • Obama Inaugurated. Change is in the air. Hope is Alive.
  • Short visit with family in Santa Fe.
  • Trip to Folk Art Museum knocks my socks off!
  • Work on creating Studio Space in basement begins.
  • Applied for SEA program. (Self Employment Assistance)
  • Registered 'BoneWerx' business name.
  • Met Bridget Benton, my advisor from the Small Business Development Center.
  • Conducted extensive Market Research/Soul Searching to create Business Plan.
  • Attended Portland screening of 'Handmade Nation'
  • Applied to be in 2 upcoming Craft Fairs.
  • Completed and Submitted Business Plan to the OR Employment Department.
  • Formed 'Inspirational Partnership' with Julie LaRoche. -Vowed to meet regularly to make and discuss art together.
  • Studio set up complete. -Christened it with a small group of supportive friends and champagne.
  • Created 'Garden Bots' to sell as Garden Art at Craft Fairs.
  • Alberta Art Hop -My First Big Event! Thousands of people strolling the street. Got great feedback but only sold 3 Calaveras. -Met Tim Combs, who made similar recycled Garden 'Bots'
  • Backed out of Vancouver Recycled Arts Festival -just not ready yet.
  • Treasure hunting, scavenging, scrapping continues in passionate scramble for new materials.
  • Gallery visits and art openings in an attempt to tap in to creative community.
  • School lets OUT. . . My art lets up.
  • Unemployment Insurance runs out.
  • Apply for and am eligible for UI extension, but unable to continue in Self Employment Assistance Program.
  • Discovered freshly opened Fantasma: an Altar Space -contacted owner about showing/selling my Calaveras there.
  • Spent the better part of Summer as FULL TIME Mama!
  • Continued to meet with Julie and do art with our kids.
  • Booked as Featured Artist and altar builder at Fantasma for the month of October!
  • My First 'Last Thursday' gig on Alberta. -Great fun, but didn't sell anything.
  • Met Linda Rand -a like minded Muertos Artist.
  • Back to School. . .Back to Work!
  • Flurry of activity to make up for lost time!
  • Created new series of Roller Derby inspired paintings.
  • Participated in 'Skating with Scissors' Bazaar with Kelly Akin. -Didn't sell a thing!
  • Attended 'Craft fair 101' through the DIY Lounge. -Met Cathy Pitters & Torie Nguyen!
  • Calavera Show at Fantasma + Altar to Ruby in shop window on Alberta!
  • Sold 9 Calaveras.
  • Attended 'Etsy Basics' through the DIY Lounge. -Met Christine Claringbold 
  • Started setting up my Etsy Shop and listing my work for sale.
  • 1st commissioned Calavera -for bridal shower gift/Day of the Dead themed wedding.
  • Show comes down at Fantasma, but Jess agrees to show/sell my Calaveras on a regular basis.
  • Created 'Share the Road' Calavera for group Muertos show at Redux.
  • Attended Opening for show with Julie & Mike -Our first adult night out all year!
  • Lewis Holiday Bazaar -sold 8 Calaveras and 2 Garden Bots
  • 1st Sale on Etsy
  • Minor mention of 'Share the Road' on Bike leads to nearly 400 hits on my blog!


  • Joint show with Julie LaRoche at First Cup Coffee House.
  • Sold 3 paintings!
  • sold Calavera at Fantasma.
  • 2nd sale on Etsy.
  • 2nd commission.

It may not look like much and it certainly doesn't add up to much monetarily, but it feels like I may be on to something. There are a lot of other people doing it; doing what I want to do and doing it well, so I know it's possible -not just to survive, but to THRIVE at it! Everyday I am encouraged by the astounding talent that surrounds me! Portland certainly feels like the right place to be right now. It's an exciting time of reinvention. The economic downturn has forced people to be more creative and driven us to take more chances about how we make a living. As restaurants are shutting down, food carts are springing up. As shops are closing, Etsy is exploding! We are refocusing our priorities about what we do, what we buy, where we buy it, what we make, how we make it, what we eat and how we live! Though I'm still a little bitter about the way it happened, I'm still thankful that I got the 'Wake Up Call'. Everything means so much more to me now on so many levels. Less wasted time, less wasted energy, less wasted money, (less money!). I am learning a lot; mostly that I have a lot more still to learn! And a lot more still to do!!

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement. 
-Alfred Adler

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hopes & Worries

For the past year, two friends met at First Cup to enjoy great coffee and conversations about art and creativity. When given the opportunity to display our art, it took the better part of 2009 to find a recurring theme we wanted to share and exhibit. As both mothers and caretakers, our conversations often centered around how to remain balanced between nurturing and smothering, hopes and worries. Eventually, we each found a medium and inspiration to express the stories of our daily lives.

Have you ever worried so much about providing a nurturing environment for your child that it feels toxic? Do you feel fragile at times about how to care for the world? Do you feel both hopeful and overwhelmed by the small progress we make individually each day?

This is an art show that begins with worry and ends in wonder. It is simultaneously nurturing and fragile because that is how parenting feels. Whether parenting children, caring for ourselves, our community or the world at large, this art is offered as one-page stories about the tension, faith and hopes in every day life. It is a glimpse into the treasury of emotion we each carry.
What hopes and worries do you carry?

This is the inspiration behind the work we chose to do.
It meant a lot to both of us and we hope it means a little something to you.

View the art from the show here:

To see more of Julie's work, check out:

Our art will show through the month of December
at First Cup on Woodstock.


This painting is an illustration of the problem of loving too much! You may not like it and it wasn't meant to be pretty. It was an important exercise for me to figure out how to do it and practice the process of turning what is inside my head into something others can see and hopefully understand. I am still discovering what kind of art I want to make. There is the art that is made to sell . . . and the art that is meant to tell. This piece has a story . . .

Last Summer I signed Nate up for Nature Camp, a week long day camp in Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. It was to be his first camp experience. He has been attending classes through Parks & Rec. at Community Centers since he was a baby, but those had all included parent involvement -so I got to attend too! Now that he is getting older, the rules are changing and I am not allowed to tag along. I understand the value of him having a life without me, but I'm not ready yet to just drop off and let go. Obviously, school is different, it is a familiar community. We know the teachers, we know the kids. It is hard to trust the UNKNOWN.

I think being the parent of only one child intensifies my dependency upon him. I've got all my eggs in one basket and I know it sounds a bit crass, but I have no back-up. At times I can be terribly preoccupied by all that can/could go wrong! I worry obsessively and am struggling to accept the fact that I cannot control the world that Nate lives in. I cannot prevent the other kids from hurting his feelings. I cannot prevent him from falling out of the tree and smashing his head wide open! I cannot prevent the driver from not seeing him in the bike lane and driving over him!! I cannot prevent the creepy stranger from jumping out of the bushes and nabbing him!!! If only I really could create a safety bubble for him, or a force-field of love and kindness. I do my best to give him the tools that he needs to survive, but I cannot protect him from everything . . . and I just HATE that!

As I was stressing the night before sending Nate to camp, I had a vivid nightmare of a nest built of broken glass. I don't usually have dreams that include such cool imagery, so I knew this was something I had to do something with. I had worked myself up into such a tizzy that I almost threw up after dropping him off that morning. I came straight home and started breaking bottles! My artistic passion fizzled when I couldn't figure out how to attach the glass to the board. I had been looking forward to spending the week in my studio, making art while Nate was at camp; falling into deep holes, getting lost in the woods and getting bitten by snakes. I have to admit that it was almost a relief when the Heat Wave hit and I could claim that it was inhumane to make him run around outside all day in 106 degrees! I didn't make any art that week and Nate only got one day of camp, but I think we both preferred to spend the quality time bonding with a waterfall in the Gorge instead.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Share the Road

I have titled this Calavera: 'Share the Road'. It is a tribute to all the cyclists who have been killed riding their bikes in the city. I created this piece specifically for the 'Muertos' show at Redux and it can still be seen there until Nov. 30th. It started with picking up bits of broken reflector in the street and feeling that each broken shard had a story to tell. I took the opportunity of being involved in this show to create something that I hoped would convey a message, it was a bit of a departure for me. I tried to keep it pretty -in the 'sugar skull' tradition, but I also let it bleed. For the most part, I enjoy art because it makes me feel good, but sometimes I get even more out of it when it makes me angry. I felt it was important to make something that might stir an emotional reaction and make others angry too. In my own little way, I hope to inspire an awareness: to SEE cyclists on the road, be courteous and drive safe (STOP driving over them!) -it's a matter of life and death!

El Hueso
doesn't like this piece. He was instantly put off by the gory aspect. He had been enjoying my quirky little Calaveras until this one crossed the line. It's true that my work has been mostly lighthearted, decorative little musings meant to bring a smile and ease our fear. Let it be known, it is NOT my intention to glorify death or wallow in the dark side. My folks for example don't really get what I am doing, it just doesn't appeal to them at all. I understand that not everyone wants a skull on their wall! I know that death is a loaded subject and the last thing I want to do is offend anyone. But kids on the other hand, are totally drawn to my stuff. They don't have the baggage attached, they just think skulls are cool! Perhaps it's a generational thing. I want to know what you think. Be honest, be forthcoming, I'd love to hear your feedback.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

warm & fuzzy

It's such a warm, fuzzy vibe when you can draw the community in to support handmade art and craft while benefiting the local Elementary school. Shopping becomes so much more meaningful when you know where your dollars are going and you can personally see who benefits. It feels so good to be a part of this community and go to a school that values art and is chock full of creative families. We had our first Bazaar last year and doubled our projected earnings for it. So this year, we doubled the amount of vendors and took over both the cafeteria and the gym! It always feels like a gamble when there's so much riding on it, but I think I can safely say that the 2009 Lewis Holiday Bazaar was a huge success! We are hoping to generate a reputation as the Hip place to start your Holiday shopping, and I think we're off to a good start. The caliber of our vendors is impressive; from our very own first graders to the royalty of Indie Craft! I am grateful to every one of them for being a part of it! Spread the word and come back next year, Lewis loves you!

Monday, November 2, 2009

graves are the footprints of angels

We spend our lives postponing death; dreading it, fearing it, cheating it. But the fact remains that there is no escape. The more we are able to accept our fatality, the more meaningful we can make our lives, the more passionately we can love and the more present we can be. Embrace life until it is our turn to embark on the unknown journey into what may lie ahead. I am working on this. Working on changing my perspective. Banishing my stress, my worry and my fear and learning how to just peacefully BE.

Today is El Día de los Muertos or All Souls' Day. It is a time to celebrate and remember our loved ones. Honoring their spirits is a way to keep our memories of them alive. Today I am remembering two Rubys. One very young and one very old. Grandpa Ru passed away August 19th, 2009. Born Reuben, some people called him Ruby, but we all called him Ru. As I look at his picture, I can see a twinkle in his eye and I hope he can feel the love in my heart.

I am happy to say that the tradition of celebrating Day of the Dead is ALIVE and WELL in PDX! It seems this year, more than ever, there are gallery shows, sugar skull making, processions and altars all over town. I find it both enlightening and encouraging! This month, I have been fortunate enough to be included in a 'Muertos' show at Redux on Burnside. I am in the company of 22 other incredible artists -which is a big thrill for me! You can see all the work from the show on this gallery blog. -But please be sure to visit Redux some time this month, you are sure to find many treasures there. The show runs from 10/27 - 11/29. Opening Reception is First Friday, THIS FRIDAY, 11/06 from 6 - 10pm.

And on the subject of the moment, I would like to share a few quotes I have gathered. . .

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death. ~Leonardo da Vinci

Death is beautiful when seen to be a law, and not an accident - It is as common as life.
~Henry David Thoreau, 11 March 1842, letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing. ~Robert Ingersoll

Someday I'll be a weather-beaten skull resting on a grass pillow,
Serenaded by a stray bird or two.
Kings and commoners end up the same,
No more enduring than last night's dream.

He spake well who said that graves are the footprints of angels. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? ~Kahlil Gibran, from "The Prophet"

From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity. ~Edvard Munch

"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance."
-G.B. Shaw

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I am so excited to have my Calaveras on display at Fantasma! The show will be up all month. If you haven't been by yet, please drop in. The shop has lots of magical, mystical items for sale as well as some lovely marionettes handcrafted by Linda Rand. The shop owner Jessica Rega is on the lookout for handcrafted, locally made art, so if you make altars, shrines, tin art etc. you might want to check it out. My Calaveras feel very at home in her shop, but I'm sure they would love to come home with you too!

The Calavera series is inspired by the Mexican Sugar Skulls of Dia de los Muertos; the tradition of honoring loved ones who have passed and welcoming their spirits home for a festive visit to celebrate the best of life. In Spanish, Calavera refers to 'Death's head' and is intended as a whimsical way to mock death's power over us. I started painting the skulls as a way to process my grief over losing my friends. It has become a creative confrontation with my own mortality. It has been empowering and healing as a constructive way to Transform the immensity of such devastation into something intriguing, Lasting and beautiful.

Each skull is created from 3/4" thick reclaimed plywood which I cut out, sand and then paint. No two are ever the same! Personalities begin to emerge as I explore different techniques, materials and found objects. They serve as a striking reminder to celebrate the life we have and know now.

Later this month on Last Thursday, October 29th, there will be a Dia de los Muertos Procession on Alberta at 7pm. It will be a great opportunity to dress up, bring candles, photos and other offerings to honor those that you want to Remember. Come and join me in the festivities!

FANTASMA is at 2314 B NE Alberta Street

Friday, October 2, 2009

Remembering Ruby

Earlier this Summer while strolling down Alberta, I stumbled upon this new little shop called FANTASMA: an Altar space. I got all tingly as I stepped in and felt like I had found the golden key that would unlock the door that would send me forth on my chosen path. Could there be anywhere more perfect than this magical little shop of Mexican handicrafts, steeped in Day of the Dead Folk Art? We were meant for each other. I introduced myself to the owner and described the Calaveras I have been making. She liked my work and booked me! And here I am, the featured Artist and Altar builder for the entire month of October. Viva la BoneWerx!

This is the first altar that I have ever assembled. As a flower child, I grew up around various forms of altars to different gods, cats, poets, artists, relatives and friends. My parents, grandma and aunt have all been altar builders, it has been a family tradition. . . and now it is my turn. I consulted my aunt Zoe, an artist and educator in the Bay Area. She is the authority on Mexican Folk Art and gave me the traditional guidelines that I needed to begin with. In the end, I branched out with where my heart led me.

The altar I have created is an 'Ofrenda' to Ruby. It has been 2 years since Ruby was taken from this world and it has taken me this long to get to the place where I could do a piece about her. In the aftermath of the horrific event that stole her away, I knew I had to make something, but it felt too painful then. It has been nagging at me ever since yearning to come out in some way, but not knowing how. It feels very important for me to honor Ruby in this way; to remind the world that she was here - touched our lives - and we miss her.

Bright bud
Glowing Firecracker
Racing bug
Spunky Dream Catcher
Wild wildflower. . .
on the wind
blowing through my mind
blowing up my heart
scattering fire seeds
softly glowing

I hope you will take the opportunity to visit the altar and celebrate the spirit of Ruby.

FANTASMA is at 2314 B NE Alberta Street

Monday, September 21, 2009


Craft Fairs are a lot of work. I really busted a move to prepare for this one, and I must admit I got a little caught up in the euphoria of working again and wondering what kind of reception my paintings might get. I didn't know what to expect, but I had high hopes. You just never know what you're gonna get! I know what the Rose City Rollers got, because I paid them $45.00 for my spot -along with nearly 100 other vendors -most of whom did not make that money back. 2 crafters beside me actually packed up and left early, one of them remarking that she had never walked out of a show before! There just wasn't any traffic. We were in an unmarked obscure location that people didn't know about or couldn't find. My friends were at a birthday party in the Oaks Park Roller Rink and wanted to check out my show afterward and asked about the Craft Bazaar, but no one knew what they were even talking about. There were no fliers posted and they had no idea that a huge event was scheduled to happen just across the parking lot!

This could have been a really fun and high energy happening if only there had been more communication and better promotion. Roller Derby is pretty sub culture, not a lot of people know about it. For this event to have been successful (for the vendors), I think they needed to reach out farther than their own inner circle on facebook -which seemed to be the main venue for their communication about it. I understand that this was their first Craft Bazaar and obviously it is a lot to pull together. I hope they get constructive feedback from other vendors and take it to heart. I'm happy to have contributed to the benefit, but I was under the impression that it might be a more reciprocal arrangement. It's too bad a bigger buzz wasn't generated and more people weren't exposed to what I have to offer.

I did meet a lot of other fantastically creative artists and it was very inspirational to see their work! But you know there's something a little out of whack when there are more vendors than attendees!

Live and Learn I guess!

Friday, September 18, 2009


In the final countdown now. What's done is done and what isn't will never be. I had a bunch more ideas that I never even got to explore, but I can't say that I will continue with the roller derby theme after this show. Too many other things on my ever growing list!

I had a lot of fun with this project and I keep reminding myself that that is what it is all about! I used actual skate laces in these pieces and a friend even donated a pair of roller skates so I could make the track marks, (Thanks Jen K. -Nate is enjoying them!).

It will be interesting to see what people will think of what I have made. I often wonder how far removed I am from the reality of what people really like or think is cool. We'll see!

Staples and Lace

It's 1:30 am and I'm still awake. I know I shouldn't be, but I've been having too much fun with the staple gun! I've been trying to find innovative ways to use common materials and I hope I am coming up with unique ideas. I just hate it when I think I've got a new angle on something only to find out it's already been done! I'm learning a lot about what works and what doesn't. I'm also making a lot of noise! The work I am doing lately seems to involve more tools than paint. Starting with the scroll saw, followed by the palm sander, then some paint, then a few staples and nails and voila! I've been pulling late nights all week trying to prepare for the Big Bazaar on Saturday. I'm sure the boys aren't too happy about all the racket, but they haven't said anything (yet). 'El Hueso' (Mr. BoneWerx) has been very polite and supportive, but I know he's feeling like an art widower. I wish I could say it will let up when this show is over, but it won't! I will be showing my Calaveras at Fantasma -an Altar Shop on Alberta (& NE 23rd) throughout the entire month of October! It's good to be busy! I'm feeling the burn but I'm loving every minute of it, since this is what I signed up to do! Viva la BoneWerx!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Today my son went back to school. We were both READY! We squeezed every last drop we could out of our summer and know that it is now time to get back to work. I have been inspired by the amazing places I have discovered this summer and am filled with juicy new memories. Milky Jade waters, mossy totems, rotting red cedar, black rocky beaches and the white washed bones of the forest are all stimulants buzzing for a way out of my head and into my art somehow. Unfortunately I am not living in the moment and can't act on them yet! I've got a 3 month backlog of work to do for several upcoming events, the first of which is in a mere 10 days! I've signed up to be a part of the Skating with Scissors Bazaar to benefit the Rose City Rollers. I am excited about this show even though I have no idea what to expect. I can totally relate to the Punk Rock nature of Roller Derby, it's Bad-Ass with a lot of style. It gets my blood pumping and brings me back to those bygone days of my twisted youth. My lack of studio time this summer did not keep me from scheming and sketching out a few ideas based on a 'Pretty in Punk' type of attitude. I am having fun playing with staples and nails and leather and lace. I hope I can maximize the time I suddenly have in front of me to expand on this theme. I have a lot of catching up to do!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Adjustment Period

I've tried getting up early. I've tried staying up late. But the fact remains that I am a mama to a 6 year old who is HOME FOR THE SUMMER! It's very hard to find a quality chunk of time to call my own. Maybe it's just too soon to think that I can make this work. I know it will get easier as he gets older, but I am getting OLDER too. . . and tired. . . and distracted. Life at this moment is all about play dates, bike rides, swimming lessons and library books. Our days are full but my soul is drained. I am questioning everything. What exactly are my priorities? My son needs me. My husband needs me. The dishes need me. But what do I need? My family is not an accident. It took a lot of hard work to build a relationship with my husband that was solid enough to bring a child into. Now that we are three, the work continues. It is the best kind of work since nothing else seems nearly as important as nurturing the relationships with the ones that we love. I'm proud of the life we have created. I am proud of the amazing person that my little boy is! It feels incredibly selfish to be fighting for time alone when I am so blessed to be home with him. HE is my priority.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

I created this piece last Summer during an afternoon intro to encaustics class at the 100th Monkey Studio. I had a lot of fun learning a new technique and just playing around with the materials they had available there. It seems appropriate to post this today in honor and appreciation of my loving husband who is a better father to our son than I could have ever hoped for. The illustration is a bit silly, I tore it out of an old children's book. But, it reminds me of the devoted involvement that I see in my husband everyday. 'Pitch and catch' at the park, chess games, bedtime stories, tickle wars and puzzles on the floor. . . and that was just today! We are grateful for the love in our lives and feel very blessed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Just do it!

"First Thursday", "First Friday", "Last Thursday" -there are so many opportunities to see some great art in this town! I keep telling myself I'm going to get out more, SEE more . . . DO More! But it's so hard to push myself out the door. I'm lazy, antisocial and frankly a little intimidated. But when I do bite the bullet and head out into the world, I am usually rewarded with a great sense of fulfillment. It's a charge that fires me up and feeds my hungry soul!

On Friday night, Julie and I ventured out to see the art opening of a friend-of-a-friend. It was fun to discover The Bite Studio. Great work there! We really enjoyed etchings of Shawn Demarest and were intrigued by the block prints of Cameron Thomson. We recommend that you check it out. While we were there, we were told about an art 'Happening' near by. So we hightailed it over to The Store for a Month, (on the corner of SE 12th & Division). How FUN! 60 artists working together to create 'products' to sell in the store for a month. I love it! I love the transient nature of it, (the sign is made out of cardboard!). It felt to me like a bunch of legitimate and pretty respectable local artists letting their hair down and goofing off. I appreciate the reminder that art does NOT have to be stuffy or even serious. It feels good when its playful! So for a good time, go to The Store for a Month -you might even get lucky and score a piece of pie!

I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself. -Claes Oldenburg
An excerpt from his 1961 manifesto: I am for an art …

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Urban Foraging

This is what I found on the street today. I call it 'Urban Foraging'. Some of the items I found while biking to and from my son's school. That's why I like biking; it's up close and personal with the trash on the street! Everything is so much more accessible. But walking is really the best way to experience the environment. Things come into a sharper focus when you are in direct contact with the landscape. What might have been just a blur in a car or a sparkling spec from a bike is actually a crunched bottle cap with an intriguing graphic. It's easy to miss it, most people do. These things do not have the same appeal to others, but they inspire me. I actually get excited when I find a crushed piece of metal on the side of the road! I don't even know what I'm going to do with it yet but I know that I want to work with it. Cheap thrills! I'm even lucky enough to have a few friends who have started picking up garbage for me, (much to my husband's chagrin!). I think it's fun to motivate people to see things in a new way, to see the beauty in a mangled piece of metal in the gutter. I have a secret fantasy of stocking my studio with all of my collected odds and ends and recycled doodads -to create my own personal 'Scrap' store. It makes sense to collect it myself rather than buy it don't you think? My husband's not a collector. He says "buy it when you need it". I don't work that way. I need it first, then I will figure out what to do with it.

There is a certain intersection on my way to the grocery store where I have been noticing what seems to be the debris from a car crash that must have happened there a few weeks ago. Today, I finally pulled the car over to get a closer look. I couldn't resist any longer, the thought of finding some good pieces was too tantilizing! It felt a little creepy to be exploring the scene of an accident, but I did score a few dinged up 'auto remains'.

Now if only I knew how to weld!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Learning Experience!

It has taken me a little over a week to process and recover from my first big event, and when I say "big" I'm not putting it mildly! The Alberta Art Hop consisted of 17 blocks of NE Alberta Street closed to car traffic, lined with 150 artists and crafts people. It was a huge and beautiful day! What a thrill to be out there among so many other truly talented and amazingly cool artists.

After a stressful week of too much to do and not enough sleep, it took everything I had to disguise my Zombie-like condition and get through the long, hot day with composure and style. I spent 8 hours standing in the street, in the blazing sun, (clearly a rookie without a tent!). But it was so worth it for all the people I met and all the things that I learned. Though physically wasted, I felt spiritually jazzed to be out there -in the mix with all the other artists and crafts people . . . am I one of them now? I don't know about that yet, it feels more like just my foot in the door -but that door is opening.

It has taken me a while to process my impressions and even though I wasn't as ready as I wanted to be, I'm glad I put myself out there. It was awesome to see people's reaction to my stuff! My Robots are kid magnets! The kids (and their parents) had a lot of fun examining all the different items used to make each face. People got a big kick out of them. The best comment of the day came from a boy about 9 years old who said "These guys would make Frankenstein jealous!" -that made my day.

I also brought a small collection of my Calaveras -because everyday is a good day to celebrate the dead! These turned a lot of heads as well, and I even managed to sell a few. It was incredibly rewarding and fun to see people's faces light up when they saw something they liked. Everyone expresses their interest differently and it was wonderful to watch.

I am extremely grateful to have had my friend Julie to spend the day with in the space beside me, I couldn't have done it without her! Next month will be a whole new ball game: a two day event in Vancouver, all by myself! Anyone out there care to come along and keep me company?

Monday, May 4, 2009


OK, this is not a Tiki, it is a garden-bot, because we all need more Robots in the garden. . .don't we? I had a lot of fun making this and it cracks me up every time I look out my window and see it's big shiny head and goofy expression! I am currently exploring lots of different themes and ideas for what I want to make. It feels good to experiment, but I look forward to getting into a groove where I can really focus on one thing at a time and find a way to do it really well. Hopefully I will hit my stride soon!

Ready or not, I have booked myself into two Art Festivals coming up. Since this has always been a dream of mine and it is part of my business plan, I figured I'd better go for it and get my feet wet! The Alberta Art Hop is coming up on May 16th! -That's in less than 2 weeks -Yikes! My art-pal Julie has signed up also and will be selling her Ecoshikis in the booth next to BoneWerx. We are both excited and terrified! It will be a opportunity to get ourselves out there, meet some other artists and learn the ropes. I just hope I have something to show and sell by then! I have a little more time to prepare for the Vancouver Recycled Arts Festival in June. I am super-psyched about both of these venues, but signing up is only the first step (the easy part). Now the hard work must really begin!

I have put a call out to everyone I know to collect their tin can lids for me in hopes that I can get enough to make some nifty things with them. So if you have any laying around, please save them for me! It has proven to be more challenging than you would think to amass recycled materials to make art with! There is a lot of competition out there all scrambling to get the good junk for free. It's not easy anymore, it's big business now as any 'Scrapper' will tell you. Let me know if you have a good dumpster connection or juicy junk pile you can direct me to. I'm not afraid to get dirty! Just last week I took a lovely Spring stroll along the railroad tracks in the inner SE industrial area. It felt very nostalgic and brought back some of the thrill of my youth and those punk rock days. Only difference is that this time I am not cutting school and drinking Olde English, I'm a 42 yr old woman treasure hunting for rusty old pieces of garbage. I did find some nice pieces (see the mouth on the robot) - but I ran like a dork when the train started coming . . .will I ever be cool again?

Sunday, April 12, 2009


In the spirit of networking, I have found a like-minded-fellow-artist-mom at school and we have formed our own 'club'. Realizing that we are both deadline driven, we have decided to meet once a week to check in and help keep one another on task. It's one thing to talk about all the things we want to do and quite another thing to actually carry it out. We hope to assist each other in the 'follow through' by having someone to be accountable to. Though now that I have started this blog, I feel accountable to all who read it! At our first meeting at the aptly named 'First Cup', we secured the December slot to show our artwork in the coffee shop! We happened to ask at just the right moment, (someone had just canceled!). It is normally open to first come first served beginning in June. We felt a bit invincible, as if this is the beginning of a Power-Partnership in which we are capable of accomplishing great things! -Let's hope that's true! I think it's important to keep the momentum going, not to slack off or get too distracted. We have continued to meet once a week and have discussed our direction and goals.

Last week we decided to play with block printing and actually get our hands dirty by making some ART while we talk. It was fun relearning an old technique and trying a new one: with Styrofoam trays! It felt good to dive in and just experiment. Making ART has become such a big deal to me that I feel like when I do it, it has to count. I realize that this is precisely what has kept me blocked for so long! I need to let go of the finished 'product' and just play with the process. Ha ha, it just hit me; we chose 'block' printing to get the juices flowing. . . is it a coincidence?

There are so many things I would love to explore and paint, how do I pick one and begin? Lately, I just can't stop thinking about Tiki's! Perhaps I should be thinking about something more meaningful and relevant. . .there IS a WAR going on after all! But here in my own little bubble, I am intrigued by the image of a Tiki as a powerful Talisman. A guardian against the evil spirits that may try to defeat me! Plus I think they're really cool!

  • Aia nô i ka nânâ `ana. [ai' (y)ah NOH' ee kah NAH'NAH' ah' nah] We'll see (what the future brings).

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Revved Up and Rarin' to go!

It's been a while, I've been busy. Busy setting up my studio, writing my business plan and generally getting my act together. A lot of people have been asking me "what exactly ARE you doing anyway???" I know it all seems very mysterious, but here's the low down. . .
After I was laid off, I was 'invited' by the Employment Department to attend a 3 hour orientation where I was quizzed, assessed and handed a stack of forms to read and fill out. One of those forms had a little blurb about a little known program called SEA; Self Employment Assistance. I liked the sound of that and came right home and called the Salem office about it. Turns out that if you have a business idea that the state deems viable, then you can apply for the SEA program. If approved you can continue to collect Unemployment Insurance while you are developing your own business, (and you are exempt from having to submit the required 3-5 applications a week to find gainful employment). I applied and was approved! WOW! So, what's my business? I'll get to that.

I was assigned an advisor and given 30 days to come up with a business plan. At first all I knew was that I have an overwhelming creative urge to make stuff. In art school, I chose to major in Illustration because it seemed like the practical way to make a living with my art. Unfortunately, I never pursued it. I got distracted; got married, bought a house and had a baby. I had to find an immediate way to make a living, (to pay the bills) and I did -for 9 years! And then the comfort of steady employment came to an abrupt end and I find myself going back to the drawing board (pun intended!). The challenge is: how do I channel my desire to "make stuff" into the framework of a 'viable business'? I'm still getting to it.

There have been lots of little things happening lately that seem to be happening for a big, meaningful reason. One of the first was meeting; Bridget Benton.
I had actually met her before (on the phone) last summer, when I was seeking creative counseling. She had only been working for the Small Business Development Commission for about a month before being assigned to my case. What a blessing and incredible stroke of luck to have such a kindred spirit help me find my direction! I spent four weeks researching my target market, doing competitive analysis and financial projection worksheets -ouch! It all finally came together, and I submitted my plan last Thursday. I won't bore you with the whole thing, but here's the heart of it:

BoneWerx is the Mixed Media Art and Illustration of Alea Bone. A funky fusion of painted, collaged and recycled elements seamlessly combined to create engaging ‘Werx’ of art that honor alternative cultures, folk art traditions and celebrate our humanity.

Alea Bone is the sole proprietor of BoneWerx and is responsible for creating all of the artwork and commissioned illustration services. Alea’s ‘BoneWerx’ will be shown and sold in multiple formats and venues:

Original BoneWerx will be sold in galleries, boutiques, craft events and on

Reproductions sold as note cards, stretched canvas reproductions and high quality archival prints.

Freelance commissioned illustrations sold primarily to book and magazine publishers.

The mission of BoneWerx is to create a sustainable career for myself, while inspiring the minds and hearts of others through my unique forms of expression, to promote and stimulate interest in the arts and advance visual communication as a vital cultural force.

To establish itself as a viable and prosperous business, four goals BoneWerx will strive for within the first year are:
Sell at a local craft fair.
Develop an Online presence and store.
Show/sell work in a gallery or local boutique
Publication in an Illustration Annual.

There's a lot more to it, but I think that pretty much sums it up. Now you (and I) have a general idea of what I want to do -and how I'm going to do it. For a great example of the model I'd like to follow, check out: Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw. She has some really cool art and illustrations, a few books, a blog and a great line of products for sale. The clock is ticking faster than ever now, I've got about 2.5 months left to get the ball rolling before I exhaust my unemployment benefits. It will be interesting to see what happens!

Now that I've got the Road Map, I'm Ready for the Trip!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hoodoo you think you are?

I spent the last weekend in January in Santa Fe, a cultural hotbed of inspiration! The whole scene is so different there. The landscape is unlike anything in the Northwest, I feel like I have been to another planet and back. I got to explore a place called Tent Rocks, where towering Hoodoos rose above us like the steeples of an ancient fairyland. It was magical! I also got to visit the Museum of International Folk Art -which made my head spin! It's too soon to tell what my 'style' is yet, but I do know that the realm of Folk Art feels to me like a circus I want to join and perform in! I want to travel more. . . learn more. . . see more. . . do more!

The art is coming. . . it's brewing. My head is bubbling over with images I want to create! The studio is coming together. I painted the walls and bought the shelves. Soon I will have a fully functional space of my own. I'm ready.

To see pix of my visit to Santa Fe:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Bone Cave

This is my workspace, fly strips and all! -That's a worm bin over there by the way. It may look a little scary at the moment and I can assure you, it feels scary too! This is reality folks, this is what were dealing with. It's not pretty, but I want to show it so when we look back we will know how far we've come. This is the 'Before' picture.

The Transformation has already begun. I have undertaken a massive purge which is clearing out the clutter and clarifying my spirit. It has been my intention to set up a studio in the basement ever since we bought the house (7 years ago!). I mean it this time, I have to. . .this is my new job. This is my new life.

One of the most satisfying periods of my life was in my senior year of Art School. I quit my job to focus 100% of my time and energy on my thesis. I had a studio downtown a block away from the school. I remember what a thrill it was heading to "work" each day. I had never experienced such a sense of purpose before. It was incredibly empowering! I was living the dream. I was an Artist. And then I graduated. The school moved into the Pearl District. The building that housed my studio went up for lease, I had to move out. I am opening boxes now that have not been touched since then.

I can taste that purpose again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today's Sharp Sparkle

Today was truly an awe-inspiring day!

Time seemed to stand still in my house as I was glued to the TV. I couldn't turn away, I couldn't stop crying, nodding my head, rocking back and forth, spontaneously clapping!

Part of me wished I had stayed at school to watch the Inauguration on the big screen with Nate. Or gone to my friends party and shared in the collective euphoria of Hope. But the other part of me needed to absorb the immensity of the moment in a quiet, personal way. The Dream has come true, change has come. Things will start to be different now. . .The People Have The Power! "Yes We Can!"

I had planned to watch the Inauguration in the morning and then proceed with my checklist for the day; the dishes, the laundry, the groceries, the Resume! And then it sucked me in. It was polarizing. I watched every minute detail, from Bush's departure, to the luncheon to the preparations for the parade. It wasn't a matter of avoiding my chores, I wanted to get outside of myself - to be a part of the bigger picture! This is History, this is HUGE!

At 2-o-clock it hit me that I should draw something. My friends have been urging me to pick up a pencil and just draw! The first and only image that came was a dove. Flight, Freedom, Peace. It's corny I know, probably even a little generic -but it's all I had. I have to pick up Nate at 3, so I had an hour. I ended up spending most of that hour looking for my pastels in the basement! Out of desperation that I would miss my window, I found a piece of chalk and did a quick sketch. I drew something. I'm starting.

It's midnight now. My head is still spinning and my chest is pounding. I was pacing earlier. I am filled with unrest. I am still pondering the Inaugural Poem by Elizabeth Alexander today. You can read the whole thing here:

But here are the last 2 lines:

"In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The First Step

This is my first step, a baby step, hopefully it will lead me somewhere. But where to and how do I get there? So many roads to take, so many uncertainties.

I was laid off on December 3rd. I had worked there almost nine years and have survived many rounds of lay-offs before, but never thought it would come down to me. I was blindsided. I had been miserable for years and dreamed of quitting but wasn't ready yet. I wasn't prepared. WHAM! BAM! Here I am! Welcome to the club I guess. I know there are a lot of us out there in the same boat. What do I do now? How is this going to effect our life as we know it? How do I fill up the big hole in our finances left by the loss of my salary? The weekly UI checks help a little, but how long can I receive unemployment? I've heard that 6 months is the cut off. I think I've used up about 5 weeks worth already and the clock is ticking!

I've spent the last 6 years complaining that I didn't have enough time or energy left over to create any art. Even just working 25-30 hrs a week, I couldn't keep up with my 6 year old, manage the household, maintain the garden. . .AND be an artist! Well now, I am unemployed, Nate is in Kindergarten 6 hrs a day. . . and I HAVE the time!

I am fortunate to have an incredible network of friends and family who have all been very supportive. They tell me this is a blessing in disguise, an opportunity, a gift, my Do Over. What will I do with it? Can I live up to my hopes and dreams? I intend this blog to document my process, it's my first step.

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned , so as to have the life that is waiting for us."-E.M. Forster